Grant Thornton has criticised Slough Council’s management of its financial accounts after a recent review.
The firm issued statutory recommendations to the council after finding that the finance team had insufficient skills or capacity to produce financial statements and reserves had fallen to an unsustainably low level.
Said recommendations relate back to the still unfinished 2018-19 audit, despite the 31 July 2019 deadline for the council to publish audited accounts.
Some 55% of local authorities missed the extended 30 November deadline for the 2019-20 accounts.
Oliver Simms, manager for public sector audit and assurance for ICAEW, said: “Local authorities are under significant financial pressure following a 55% reduction in government funding over the last ten years but it is vital they ensure their finance team has sufficient skills and resources to produce good quality and timely accounts.
“Accounts and their audit should not be seen as a compliance exercise but rather a valuable exercise that enables effective budgeting and the identification of weaknesses in financial management as well as a key source of transparency for voters and taxpayers.”
He added: “Grant Thornton’s critical report into Slough Council shows the consequences of an under-resourced finance team and neglecting the importance of the accounts.”